There is no secret throughout the NFL that the Buccaneers will be addressing their defensive backfield this off-season.
While safety is still a question that needs answering, we do know the Bucs will most likely bring in 2-3 new cornerbacks with free agency and the draft helping them do that.
We will get to the cornerbacks in this year’s draft as we go throughout draft season, but with free agency set to begin in the NFL on March 12, here are a few free agent cornerbacks the Bucs could consider:
Brent Grimes, 29, (Atlanta Falcons) – People tend to think Grimes is a younger cornerback, but he’s been around a while. Grimes is coming off a torn achilles which is a concern, but he has proven to be a very good cover guy and a physical corner. With the Falcons recent releases, many expect the Falcons to try and resign both Grimes and William Moore.
Sean Smith, 25, (Miami Dolphins) – Smith has the elite size (6’3”) that makes defensive coordinators drool at times. As with most free agents, we have to wonder why the Dolphins would not try harder to retain Smith if he was that good. Reports have Smith looking for a potential deal that would pay him $10 million per season. While Smith is a good cornerback with potential to get better, he is not considered an elite cornerback in the NFL.
Dominique Roders-Cromartie, 26, (Philadelphia Eagles) – Coming out of college, DRC was considered to have all of the tools to be a top 10 cornerback in the NFL. He has shown that ability at times, just not enough. NFL Films’ Greg Cosell joined “Gary and The Commish” last week and said, “Rodgers-Cromartie might be the most physically gifted corner in the NFL, but only plays that way 3 games a year.” DRC is also not known for being the most physical corner either.
Aqib Talib, 27, (New England Patriots) – He can be a great cornerback, but he’s also a troubled individual.
Dunta Robinson, 30, (Atlanta Falcons) – Robinson has been most known for laying big hits on opposing receivers the past couple years. While he has been a good cover corner in the past, there are concerns that his talent might be starting to dip with his age, which might be a reason the Falcons released him.
Cary Williams, 28, (Baltimore Ravens) – Williams was one of the staring cornerbacks for the Ravens as they won the Super Bowl this past season. After spending a majority of his career as a reserve, Williams has gotten an opportunity to start the past two seasons and has shown to be a physical and solid corner. Williams has 4 interceptions on his career, all of which came in 2012. The most likely destination for Williams might be reuniting with his former defensive coordinator, Chuck Pagano, in Indianapolis.
Derek Cox, 26, (Jacksonville Jaguars) – I recently wrote that Derek Cox might end up being the Bucs top target when it comes to cornerbacks. There is a lot to like about this “secret superstar.” Her has good size (6’1” 195 lbs) and speed (4.39). Cox was shown confidence to match up with other teams top receivers as well for the Jaguars. The biggest concern with Cox is that he has missed 17 games due to injury in the past 3 seasons. With new Bucs DBs coach, Tony Oden, coming from the Jaguars last season, the Bucs might have additional insight into Cox whether that be positive or negative.
Keenan Lewis, 26, (Pittsburgh Steelers) – Much like the Ravens, when you see a player available from the Steelers defense, your eyebrows immediately go up Lewis is a physical corner with good experience in a top defense. He has just one year starting, but that was for the top ranked pass defense in the NFL. Typically, Lewis would line up against an opposing team’s 2nd receiver as Ike Taylor would take the opposing team’s top target.
Greg Toler, 28, (Arizona Cardinals) – Toler is being touted as one of the more underrated cornerbacks available this off-season, but the more people talk about him, the more his value goes up. Toler has experience playing man coverage and being left on an island. Like Lewis, Toler lined up against opposing team’s 2nd receiver because Patrick Peterson would take their top target. Toler could end up with his former defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, in Cleveland.
Bradley Fletcher, 26, (St. Louis Rams) – Fletcher lost his place in St. Louis after the Rams signed Cortland Finnegan in free agency last year and then drafted Janoris Jenkins. He has been a limited starter in the NFL and has also dealt with his share of injuries. After just turning 26 years old in January, Fletcher might be a good player to add to the mix as a nickel corner, but his limited starting experience might be concerning.
Antoine Cason, 26, (San Diego Chargers) – Cason seems to fit the mold for the Bucs as a corner with experience in man and press coverage. Cason is a physical corner who has been a 3 year starter for the Chargers.
Mike Jenkins, 27, (Dallas Cowboys) – Jenkins is considered a good cover corner, but there some who question how physical he is. Jenkins has also dealt with injuries, which led the Cowboys to replacing him with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. With Jenkins from USF, there is a home town tie to the Bucs in Tampa.
Quentin Jammer, 33, (San Diego Chargers) – With 11 years in the NFL and 10 of those seasons as a starter, experience is no issue with Jammer. He has been a physical corner who has been very good in man coverage for a long time. The concern with Jammer is that he might be slowing down and might not have the speed to keep up with the quicker receivers anymore.
Rashean Mathis, 32, (Jacksonville Jaguars) – Mathis began his career and grew into one of the top cover cornerbacks in the game. After not missing a start in his first 4 years, the injuries began. In the last 6 seasons, Mathis has just one year where he didn’t miss a game, and in total has missed 23 games due to injury. In 2012, he lost his starting job and was just informed on March 5 that he would not be back with the Jaguars.
Captain Munnerlyn, 24, (Carolina Panthers) – Munnerlyn will test free agency after the Panthers could not resign him due to salary cap concerns. Munnerlyn does not have size (5’8”), but has started the past two seasons for the Panthers. Munnerlyn could be a very good slot corner and adds value on special teams. Also, look for the Panthers to potentially release Chris Gamble who has been their top corner for the past 9 seasons.
Other cornerbacks who will be available: Sheldon Brown (CLE), Kelvin Hayden (CHI), Chris Houston (DET), Adam PacMan Jones (CIN), Leodis McKelvin (BUF), DJ Moore (CHI), Tracy Porter (DEN)
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